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Clean up hard drive, delete spyware to speed things up

I am having trouble with the system locking up. When on the Internet, the system will lock up and has to be rebooted to continue. Sometimes it has to be rebooted two or three times. The system also is slow looking up some sites.

This could be numerous things. Always start with a system tuneup. Right-click your C drive, select Properties, click the Disk Cleanup button. When it completes, click the Tools tab and then click the Check Now button under Error Checking. Now the hard stuff: If you don't already have them, download and install Ad-aware and Spybot (www.lavasoft.de and www.safer-networking.org, respectively). After you run both of these programs, one at a time, also make sure your regular antivirus program is active and up to date with the latest definitions. Run the MSCONFIG program (Start, Run, type MSCONFIG and click OK). Check the Startup tab. Find out what each process is. Two sites that have extensive information on helping you determine friend from foe are www.answersthatwork.com and www.liutilities.com. They also each have a for-purchase application that automatically identifies all your running processes. Liutilities Wintask5 program is one I've tried and I can recommend. The Times archives (www.sptimes.com) also has a lot of this information from past columns. Lastly, consider upgrading to Windows XP if you haven't already. While spyware and process bloat are problems there also, system freezeups are infinitely less likely.

Change default drive to use backup program

I'm using Windows XP Home with a C hard drive and D CD-ROM drive. I have read your articles on backing up the system using the XP Backup and decided to try it myself. In my attempt to run a system backup, I found that XP would allow me to write only to a floppy disk on A when using either the Wizard or Advanced Mode. Could there be a patch/update that my version of XP does not have or have I perhaps done something incorrectly? I loaded the backup, but I seem to recall that during this process I got a message that the backup program did not support ASR. Is there some connection between my not being able to change the drive designation to a CD as my backup media and the fact that ASR is not supported? Should ASR be supported as part of the XP Home package?

ASR (Automatic System Recovery) is not supported on Windows XP Home edition since its scope is beyond what most home users would require. In fact, as you mentioned, XP Backup is not loaded by default for Windows XP Home edition. For our readers, here is the procedure:

1. Insert your Windows XP CD

2. On the Welcome to Microsoft Windows XP screen, click Perform Additional Tasks.

3. Click Browse this CD.

4. Double-click the ValueAdd folder, then Msft, and then Ntbackup.

5. Double-click Ntbackup.msi to install the Backup utility.

In your case, all you need to do is click the Browse button to select a destination other than the ridiculous default of Floppy Disk A. Most PCs don't even come with a floppy disk anymore. I think it's time for Microsoft to change this confusing default.

Adjust control panel view to access updates

I followed your instructions on how to set my system for automatic updates (Nov. 29). When I click Start, Settings, Control Panel, there is no icon for auto updates to double-click on. I am running Windows XP.

I should have been more specific. Most users will have the default Control Panel representation of Category View. I find this view confusing and ambiguous, and I always change it to Classic View. Through the Category View, you would click Performance and Maintenance, then System and then the Automatic Updates tab. Or, you can be old school like me and change your Control Panel to Classic View (it's the first option on the left).

_ Send hardware and software questions to personaltechsptimes.com or Personal Tech, P.O. Box 1121, St. Petersburg, FL 33731. Questions will be answered only in the column. John Torro is a Microsoft Certified Systems Engineer and Microsoft Certified Solution Developer. He has been writing for Personal Tech since 1997.

_ Previous Solutions columns are available at www.sptimes.com/Technology.shtml, then click on archives.

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